Sourcing KRION Versus XTONE: An Explainer
Carlos Monsonís, the national sales director of KRION® and XTONE for Porcelanosa USA, has met few people—individual homeowner and practicing designer alike—who start a new project knowing exactly which Porcelanosa surface to specify. Rather than simply promote the products to which he is officially assigned, Monsonís describes his job as helping clients navigate the many Porcelanosa choices at their disposal.
“Alvaro and I have worked with hundreds of specifiers, and there is no single product that suits every application,” Monsonís says of himself and Alvaro Oscoso, who is the Northeast product manager. “Different products have different advantages in terms of fire rating, or stain or UV resistance, and we’re not afraid to point out a material’s strengths as well as its weaknesses. People need that guidance.”
Shown: KRION® Bianco Cloud
During these searching conversations, Monsonís often steers a retail consumer or professional client toward KRION, precisely because the solid surface has so many possible uses. “A key quality of the material is its versatility; it can be used for applications from countertops to reception desks,” he says. Approximately 70 percent of KRION® is made of aluminum trihydrate, and the remaining third comprises high-resistance resins. The combination of natural minerals and resins yields a pore-free, antibacterial slab material that is impressively durable.
Shown: KRION® Snow White
Such high performance means that KRION® is most frequently specified for commercial projects, where end users are quite likely to bump, spill, and otherwise test the longevity of a surface. Owners of commercial spaces not only prefer KRION® for its ability to withstand user abuse, but also because the solid surface can be refreshed after it has taken a beating. “You can polish an existing stone slab or fill a chipped surface with epoxy, but it would never look the same, whereas with KRION®, you can repolish it every five years and it will look brand new. We call that regeneration,” Oscoso says, adding, “There is enough material in a 12-millimeter slab of KRION that you can regenerate the surface five or six times.” Besides offering more reparability than stone, KRION® does not have to be sealed semiannually or annually like natural materials require.
Shown: KRION® Snowfall L103
Architects and interior designers of commercial spaces gravitate toward KRION® for its creative potential, as well. In the case of a long-running span of KRION®, the joints between slabs can be polished to produce the appearance of one seamless surface. And thanks to the presence of those resins, KRION® can undergo thermoforming in which the material is heated and then stretched into or onto a mold, where it then cools to the desired geometry. “When you want to create shapes that are not otherwise possible, we recommend KRION®,” says Oscoso, who points to a pharmaceutical company’s recently installed five-story helical staircase as a prime example of malleability. During the production process, KRION® can even be injected into a form.
Shown: Custom KRION® Staircase
Of course, the colleagues note that the very softness that allows KRION® to bend to clients’ imaginations also makes the solid surface more prone to scratching than other products in the Porcelanosa family. “Being able to make something like a unique spiraling staircase requires some compromise in composition,” Oscoso observes. If a client expresses a preference for superior scratch resistance, then the conversation will most likely refocus from KRION® to XTONE.
Shown: Fiori Di Bosco Kitchen
Monsonís notes that Porcelanosa clients are attracted to XTONE for functionality and aesthetics alike. The collection of printed, large-format porcelain surfaces offers much of the same antibacterial performance and UV and stain resistance as KRION®, but it also includes hyper-realistic interpretations of multiple natural materials, such as marble, wood, and metal.
Shown: Viola Blue Polished
Complex naturalistic details, such as faux veining, can continue across a joint or around an edge, too. XTONE is available in polished, honed, and other finishes. Meanwhile, KRION is manufactured in one warm finish, and other sheens can be realized by a fabricator during sanding.
Shown: Orobico Dark and Taj Mahal
Of course, XTONE does have its drawbacks, as Monsonís and Oscoso would be the first to tell you. Invisible joints and regular regeneration, for example? Those qualities are not achievable with porcelain, because it is so hard. XTONE, moreover, acquires much of its strength via attachment to fiber cement board or other substrate, yet fabricators are not entirely familiar with this and other properties of the material. “Some fabricator resistance is inevitable when the surfaces marketplace migrates to a new material like XTONE,” Monsonís explains.
Shown: KRION® Snow White at Capital One Flagship Branch, NY
Indeed, the marketplace is experiencing just such a transition. Monsonís and Oscoso report that XTONE sales are increasing exponentially as consumers shift away from the marble and granite slabs that absorb water and stains in ways that large-format porcelain simply will not. The pair is currently at work on several sizable airport projects that incorporate XTONE. Right now, they are also overseeing an important KRION® installation at the new Facebook offices in New York’s Hudson Yards development, and just completed an installation at the Capital One flagship bank on Park Avenue also in New York City. Brand awareness as well as sales of both materials are on the rise, as they offer so many more benefits than disadvantages, and Monsonís and Oscoso take pride in walking Porcelanosa clients through the distinctions between them.